Getting to know Phathutshedzo Makwarela... The man behind the best of Mzansi's stories #The River on 1Magic & More

Phathutshedzo Makwarela, 37, was born and raised in Mamvuka, Limpopo. His parents were both educators at the time he was born. His father was a headteacher while his mother managed a preschool. Being raised by educators meant young Makwarela had access to books from an early age. This early exposure to books helped instill a love for reading and writing in him, which contributed immensely to his career as a creative writer and producer.

Makwarela had his high school education at S.J. Van Der Merwe Technical High School in ZLebowakgomo, Limpopo, where he matriculated with excellent grades with motor mechanics as a concentration. Having completed Grade 12, it was time to proceed to varsity. His parents had hoped he would pursue a career in engineering as this was the idea behind sending him to a technical school. He, however, enrolled at the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, to study TV and Film Production, albeit with his parents’ blessing.

Phathutshedzo Makwarela’s interest in television and entertainment began way before he completed high school. His love for television was born from watching Anthony Thobejane’s Sepedi drama series, Bophelo ke Semphekgo, which sparked his initial passion for television. This passion was further nurtured by the original series of Generations, which aired between 1993 and 2014. Makwarela’s decided to make his dreams real when he became an intern at Soul City. During his internship, he was equally a writer for Muvhango. These marked his debut into showbiz.

His breakthrough into the industry came when Ferguson Films – owned by late Shona and Connie Ferguson – hired him and Gwydion Beynon, his business partner, as head writers for their M-Net project, Rockville, in 2013. This was a big deal as they were both new in the industry. It also launched Makwarela into M-Net. Although Connie and Shona Ferguson created the show, the script was written by Phathutshedzo Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon, with Linda Bere, Chisanga Kabinga, Pamela Power, and Sibusiso Mamba.

Upon the expiration of his contract with Ferguson Films, Makwarela and Beynon formed a strong business alliance, which culminated in the founding of Tshedza Pictures. The creative duo has produced some of South Africa’s most viewed soap operas and telenovelas under Tshedza Pictures. Indeed, Phathutshedzo Makwarela is renowned for scriptwriting.

It is close to impossible to pinpoint any of Makwarela’s work as best among the rest. This is because he has a record of delivering stories that go well beyond the expectations of his audience. Although most of Phathutshedzo Makwarela’s famous soapies are co-created with Beynon, there is no gainsaying that he has helped to change the face of storytelling in South Africa by proving that there’s no better person to tell the stories of black South Africans than black South Africans.

Soapies such as The Republic fetched him accolades for daring to tell a story that reflects the political space in South Africa. The show mirrors the intrigues and corruption that surround the political sphere. The Republic is remarkable for giving South Africa her first female president, albeit on screen. Legacy is also another soap opera that endeared him to the public. The show revolves around the Price family and the fierce battle for succession at the Price empire following the death of the family’s patriarch. We cannot forget the suspense-packed telenovela The Queen, a bold dive into the dark side of the South African nation- the mafia world of drug lords.

Phathutshedzo Makwarela’s soap operas have earned him fame, love, and admiration of his country people because his stories resonate with the people. They can relate to the content he creates, which accounts for the incredible viewership his shows enjoy. His attention to detail and infusion of realism into fiction is also noteworthy.

1Magic’s award-winning telenovela, The River, was created by Phathutshedzo Makwarela and his long-time business partner, Gwydion Beynon. The show has been a tremendous success since it premiered on January 29, 2018. It was produced by Tshedza Pictures for M-Net Productions. 

Famous Work Soap Operas and Telenovelas Written by Phathutshedzo Makwarela

  • Rockville (2013)
  • The Queen (August 1, 2016)
  • The River (January 29, 2018)
  • Giyani: Land of Blood (April 1, 2019)
  • The Republic (2019)
  • Legacy (August 21, 2020)
  • Gomora (March 30, 2020)


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